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Off My Mind
by Richard Hawley
Quiff Richard

Richard Hawley at Liverpool Guild Of Students | Tuesday 8 October 2019

Resplendent in (presumably) unironic double denim combo of jacket and jeans, Richard strode onto the stage, struck a pose and then struck up 'Off My Mind' to open the set, as it does on the current album Further.

'Alone' and the title track followed, with the fully match-fit band playing loudly and energetically, but controlled, with the tour having now reached its midway point the evening after an apparently triumphant appearance at Manchester's Albert Hall.

In noting that "it had been a while" since he'd appeared in Liverpool (the last time being October 2015), this fact was relayed to the audience with Hawley's trademark droll delivery, also deployed later on when introducing 'Tonight The Streets Are Ours' as a song whose words "I believe will come true sooner or later - it's called 'I Have Won A Million Pounds'..."

(Readers will have to imagine their own tumbleweed rolling across the screen at this point).

Fortunately, his singing and playing during the gig was of a much higher standard than his comedy, as indeed was his indignant rage at the state of the nation expressed during and after 'Streets', though with the caveat that he can't really express his feelings about the "wrecking ball" in charge of the country in "some cities - but in Sheffield, and Manchester, and Liverpool, we can".

However, the political is largely subsumed by the personal and poetical in his songs, probably personified best by the crooning 'Coles Corner', from the 2005 album of the same name that first brought him to wide(r) spread attention after its nomination for the following year's Mercury Prize, despite eventually losing out to Steel City compatriots Arctic Monkeys - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdtvpQEvK7A.

As cliché has it, home is where the heart is, and this is often reflected in Richard's work, though it has been noted that Further, his eighth solo LP, is the first not to reference that in its title.

Recent records have also largely moved away from balladeering into harder-edged, (occasionally psychedelically) rockier fare, epitomised by 'Don't Stare At The Sun' and the main set closer 'Is There A Pill?' - https://www.godsjukebox.com/Wilksy/richard-hawley-is-there-a-pill/ - which was extended, though not excessively, and allowed full use of the assorted effects pedals assembled at the feet of both the main man and supporting guitarist 'Shez' Sheridan.

They also managed to utilise a mini music shop's-worth of electric and acoustic 6- and 12-strings during the show. One in particular gave Richard some tuning difficulties until he declared "that's close enough for this song" and (in a better joke) that he "once watched Martin Carthy tuning up for 45 minutes. He'd only been booked for half-an-hour..."

A stellar show, then, from an artist still at the top of his songwriting and performing game. Hopefully it won’t be quite as long again before he returns again, though his recent forays into theatre and film scores (plus a cameo acting appearance in Funny Cow) suggest an alternative, or at least parallel, career path for him should he wish to pursue it.

(9/10)

#GigAntics
2019 - BMG Rights Management - United Kingdom
Posted: 9th October 2019
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